Casteel starts first game for Braves

By JOE CANNON
Posted 4/21/19

CHATTANOOGA — After having to wait a few weeks, a local professional baseball player got to see his first official action in a Braves uniform.Signing with the Atlanta organization in late January, …

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Casteel starts first game for Braves

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CHATTANOOGA — After having to wait a few weeks, a local professional baseball player got to see his first official action in a Braves uniform.

Signing with the Atlanta organization in late January, Ryan Casteel made a strong impression during Minor League Spring Training and has been with the Double-A Mississippi Braves since the season began earlier this month.

"I was technically on the Danville (Virginia) roster, which is an Advanced-A, short season team (which don't start games until June), but they have me traveling and working with the Mississippi team," he explained.

"I'm helping out in the bullpen and working with the pitchers," the 10-year minor league veteran explained. "They have me and a pitcher doing the same thing. We are with the team in case we're needed.

"I'm probably the highest-paid bullpen catcher in the league," Casteel joked.

The opportunity came Thursday, as the Braves officially put him on the Mississippi roster to replace an injured first baseman.

Friday evening he got the start at first base as the Braves wrapped up a series against the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Although preferring to be behind the plate, Casteel has experience playing first base, which is what he mainly did while in the Seattle Mariners organization for a year and a half.

Casteel hit cleanup in the Braves batting order Friday, and although he was officially 0-2, he did draw a pair of walks in his four plate appearances. The Lookouts won the game 8-4 to prevent the visitors from sweeping the four-game series.

With Mother Nature wiping out a pair of Bradley Central games Friday, many of the Bears, and family members, made the short trip to AT&T Park to watch the former Bear standout in action.

The squad traveled back to Jackson, Miss., Saturday to open a five-game set against the Montgomery Biscuits, a Tampa Bay Rays affiliate.

The Braves are 7-6 on the season and in second place of the Southern League's Southern Division, while the Biscuits come in leading the Northern Division with an 8-6 mark.

Prior to this season, Casteel has played in 626 Minor League Baseball games, collecting a .274 BA, .332 OBP, 64 HRs, 343 RBIs, 154 doubles and 14 triples in his 646 hits.

Along with playing for 11 minor league teams, he also help lead a team to the prestigious Arizona Fall League championship (2014), as well as being the Catcher of the Year in the California League (2013) and earning MVP and all-star honors in the Australian Baseball League that winter.

Last season in Independent ball, the 27-year-old was the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball's top-hitting catcher with a .321 batting average and a .383 on base percentage for the Lancster (Pennsylvania) Barnstormers.

Casteel had 117 hits in 104 games, with 20 doubles, three triples and 16 home runs. He drove in 70 runs and scored 51 times to help lead the Barnstormers to the ALPB playoffs.   

After playing at Cleveland State, he started his professional career after being selected in the 17th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft by the Colorado Rockies. 

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